tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN February 25, 2014 2:30am-4:31am EST
>> washington journal continues. host: our guest is jonathan reporter health-care for the hill. thank you for being here. one of your recent articles, the pale,ne is, 20% fail to premiums. what does that mean? onst: you can select a plan there but the final step, you do not have insurance until you actually pay the insurer. what industryout executives are saying is that 20% of people who have selected a plan have not actually pay for it and gone to the final step. when the obama administration numbers, 3.2llment million people have enrolled, you have got to pay -- shave about 20% off of that. host: what does that mean for the obama administration? they have been touting that number. >> it will be something
democrats will be on the defensive about. days, cms will have to own up to the fact enrollment numbers are actually lower than what we have been reporting. right now, it is only about 80% of the 3.3 million have paid. possible -- i have gone to the steps and i'm done, but i have not made the final steps? is that a concern? guest: absolutely. a lot of people have been getting it for the first time through obamacare. they have not been through it before. it is not always the consumers fault. we are seeing when healthcare.gov stumbled out of the gate, the ministration focus on fixing the front end of the website and let the backend, stay in development. a lot of information going to the insurers to notify them of
who was signing up, never got there were sent that information so there has been a delay in building some of these consumers. it is not always the consumers fault. sometimes they are still waiting on a call from the and sit -- the insurer. >> how do you know what you are 100% done and have gone through all the steps you need? class you will get an insurance card in the mail. they are encouraging people to call their insurer to be sure. if you paid your premium, you likely have health care. it is good to call your insurer and double check. >> our guest is a health-care reporter for the hill. if you would like to join the onversation -- if you are an enrollee for a plan under the affordable health care act, you can give us a call. the first call this morning is
byron in louisiana and on the line for democrats. the guest there, and all republicans, why are they so andid of the middle class poor people having health care in this country echo what do they have against them? they act so gleeful whenever they can announce something against the affordable care act. they realize if it ever goes through, when it goes through, they are finished. nobody will vote republican ever again. bye. i would say republicans are walking a fine line right now. they're coming up with their own and alternative to obama care that focuses more on free-market fixes, they would say. of right, itnd leaves them in a position of, when they are knocking the health-care law, they have to be very careful lyrically not to
callousseem like a argument against obamacare and make it seem a bit actually care that people are getting health care for the first time. >> i want to take a look at some of the numbers on this. if you break it down by insurance company, as many as 30% of customers failed to pay premiums under the aca. 20% from blue shield, california, and 16% from -- thesere you hearing from companies about his numbers? >> their concern could be worse. earlier in the process, it was something we were getting estimates that only 50% aid. it could be worse. 80% is not ideal. a lot of their focus right now is on reaching out to the people who have not made their payment. there are other reasons some of these people have not paid. maybe they will wait until the march 31 deadline to pay.
what these insurance companies are doing is reaching out because people are really pushing them and letting them know if you want to be covered, you have to make the premium payment. becky inxt caller is baltimore, maryland, on the line for independents. she has signed up through the aca. caller: hello. i worked very hard for three months to enroll my husband in the aca. it took me three months before somebody could figure out why it was coming out as an error. toave not even gotten built pay the premium and he is supposed to start on march 1. so i am not sure how he will be enrolled if i have not even gotten gold. thank you. christ yes. i think that is a common problem and troubling news for the obama administration. of the primary reasons people have not pay their
premiums is that they are not getting their bills from the insurers and that could be because the data from healthcare.gov has not been transmitted properly to insurers. you are in a boat with a lot of the 20% that have not made their toments area i would say contact your insurer to make sure you have enrolled and ask where your bill is. in a lot of these cases, the insurers are being flexible with how they deal with these. they will backdate your insurance policy, and sometimes they are even sending people their cars before they pay with a bill to say, you can use this as soon as you finish payment. that is one of the main reasons some of these people have not paid. to st. louis, missouri. on our line for democrats. what has been your experience in rolling? -- and rolling? -- enrolling? caller: half with you january, i
gave a credit card number to pay my next ill. this week for my got my first bill. while that was going on, i spent many hours on hold with the insurance company, trying to get a build in trying to make sure i was covered and when i called, they said, yes, you're covered. when a provider called, they said no, we have no record of him. the democratic line and we just heard from independent line. this is troubling stuff or the obama administration. all these little anecdotes of people who want healthcare.gov to work and it has been a difficult experience for a lot of people. might expect this from the republican line, a lot of people calling up and saying this is not working, but that is troubling. we are starting to hear that. hopefully, you can iron out the issues. >> i want to ask you about a recent article you wrote.
what does it mean and what problems will it solve? guest: one of the primary criticisms of the obama administration during the rollout has been the numbers they are releasing are inflated because they included people that have not pay their premiums. when you try to find out from wem what percentage it is, have been learning this from the insurance industry and not the obama administration, they say they do not have the ability right now to track who has and has not paid because they pay insurers directly. part of the backend of the website they are building out right now is an application that will allow them to better track who has and has not paid premiums. we will hopefully get more regular updates about what percentage of people have picked out a plan and have not paid. right now, it is something in the works and i imagine sometime in spring, probably april or may, that will be and we will have a better idea who has and
has not paid but it is one of the things they have not been able to report on. michigan. is karen in what was your sign-up experience like echo class a little rough in the beginning. we got through and are thrilled with our plan. premiums are cut in half. asthma is no longer a problem and we are not stuck with our policy. i would like to ask, how much money has been spent by outside opposing the affordable care act compared to outside groups promoting it. thank you. guest: a good question. i do not have exact figures but both sides are spending big on this. the primary issue of the 2040 electioncycle -- 2014 cycle, so you have outside groups spending millions to make
that an issue. on the side of the affordable you have enrollment activists and outside groups their publicamp up relations blitz on this. when the website stumbled out of the gate, it was pointless advertising and supporting the law because you would send people to website that did not work. you will see that ramp up match us in the next month, but also throughout the year before the 2014 elections. haven,s go to new connecticut. online for democrats. >> good morning. i am sure he has researched all of the information, but the the obama health care act will be a plus for the democrats. in particular, to families who
have had problems trying to get health care for family members who have been turned down because of previous illnesses, etc.. i can tell you this. view,y point of republicans had better get on the stick and start discussing issues that are meaningful to the american public out here. already voted on the health care act, something like 48 times. something that is already lost. they need to talk about, for example, why are milk prices rising? what is there about this product milkmakes the price of continually rising from week to
week? issues that many are not being discussed. may i just say this? i feel sorry for the people in theykraine and the fact are having problems with their government. but i am more concerned about what is happening with our people here in our government and the problems we are having over here. you said you think obama care will be a plus for democrats. that is an optimistic view right now. the law is not terribly popular. it is fairly unpopular. the botched rollout did not help. there is an effort by both sides to highlight anecdotal stories of the law working or not. republicans highlighting cases where someone lost their insurance and someone who is gravely ill had to change plans
because of obamacare, and you have on the democratic side them highlighting stories of people who got coverage for the first time despite resisting conditions. that is a battle that will play out and we will see closer to november who is winning the battle. right now, i would call it a net negative for democrats. if we're talking about the 20% of people who sign up and did not pay when going to the system, water lawmakers saying and how are they responding? guest: on the republican side, you have constant attempts, sending letters to cms or helping human services, demanding the information the obama administration already said they cannot supply right now. on the administration side, you have a real effort to get the backend of the system up and running. it is a real liability for them as long as this remains out there.
one of the big stories after the march 31 deadline will be how big of a hit these enrollment numbers take when we finally know what percentage of these people actually paid. administration can close that gap and make it less than 20%, they can say they are making progress. they will already miss their initial enrollment target of march 31. you shave 20% off, it goes down even more. by thes a real push insurance industry, who needs and wants to get paid by the consumers, and also the administration to get this up and running. next up is gael in freehold, new jersey, republican line. caller: good morning. the affordable care act has cut off care for seniors. anybody over 65, especially if you are white, that is what obama's goal was. because ifwatch out
you are white over 65, there is no more medical care for you. i think i would disagree. i think there is still ample medical care. i think one issue republicans will latch onto in 2014 are cuts to the medicare advantage program, private medicare. basically, on friday, the ems announced a decrease payment rate to insurers by two percent. when democrats pass this law, medicare advantage had always been a liberal punching bag for a while. they cut $200 billion over 10 years. in part to pay for the for the care act. there are ways republicans are spending that -- spinning that to say obamacare is hoenig -- hurting seniors. i think there are still other options available. for pop -- for some people, they might see premiums go up or
fewer services offered. caller, frank, a democrat in florida. i do not have a problem signing up. i am on medicare. but my wife is signing up right now. think the gentleman is not giving the government enough credit. someone asked him how much the people who spent a portion of obamacare do not and he did not know the answer. what i am saying is a deal this , getting up to 30 million americans signing up for health time, itthe first needed everybody to have all hands on deck.
to be onhing this big and the poor -- the republicans do not supportive -- it at all, give the government credit. at any point in time, even for those who have insurance, more than 25% of the public have not paid premiums. so give them credit. 20% of people not having paid their premiums, it is not good enough for me to join the -- that has provided all of this for the very first time. yes, well, i mean, i
think the obama administration would admit the healthcare.gov rollout went horribly. there is an argument that republicans have been obstructing the law every chance they get. it,tless attempts to repeal and they have not been on board with helping the law succeed. that is certainly something democrats will be saying. there is some merit there. i do not even think the administration would call up the rollout a success at this point. when the obama administration is in the -- releasing the enrollment numbers, you have to back and say, they will be lower than they already are and they are already behind enrollment goals. it is something that will be a political issue in 2410 something that insurers and the administration both have a stake
in improving. >> i want to ask you a little bit. something you wrote about this past sunday. i want to listen to a clip and get your response. [video clip] >> this has not been what anybody had hoped for. with that is the per sonnet and maybe this is not something i want to participate in. peel that back and show people advantages of health care and why it is much better than using emergency rooms of our for aals as primary care lot of people, i think people understand it. it helps them plan their health care. it works. it takes a lot of education.
>> you can watch the entire interview on our website. your take? we're seeing right now in the run-up to the march 31 deadline is a more micro targeted public relations blitz by the administration and people who have a stake in the health care law succeeding. friday, a senior obama adviser did a conference call with reporters. trying to they are coordinate the final push to get members of the black community to sign up for obamacare. there has been fear some of the i'm -- the minority groups have in missing the message on signing up because the trends in california right now are that hispanics are lagging in signing up. what you will see is a corrugated push to get minorities, blacks, to sign up in greater numbers.
class how about some of the things the administration will be doing? celebrities always help. they have nba basketball players on board. magic johnson trying to get the message out and hoping they connect well with the black community. i think they do. basically, they are working with these mayors to build an infrastructure. each of these cities has a different reason about why people in their community are not signing up. some people in their community are very poor. and too reliant on going to be emerged see room. anything they pay for will be some sort of sticker shock for them. they have got to do convincing about why having health care insurance is a better option for them than just relying on the emergency room. >> a question from twitter now, roger green writes, how does the aca helped millions of employed and under employed?
-- gap inthere is kind of a some of these states that did not expand medicare, kind of a big issue right now. tople who do not make enough qualify for medicare and do not receive federal subsidies. i do not know what the exact percentage is, that qualify for subsidies, but there is a large amount now. that is one of the it may -- the main selling point to hear from the obama administration now. check it out because you might get a tax break or a subsidy. host: our guest jonathan easley is a health care reporter from the hill. next up on our line from it -- andand an acl aca -- an aca enrollee. caller: i take a bit of an issue. we did not expand
medicare. we expanded medicaid. as a reporter, i would suggest you report and keep your personal opinions to yourself. from your use of the word black in a denigrating way, your use of minorities, and your facial when you are humor getting an opinion you do not particularly care for. as far as your 20%, your investigation should focus quite five calls to the insurance carrier to send a bill. carrier, fivence times, saying, well, we don't have your paperwork. ,e knew the question to ask which was the number we were
california -- covered california. "we have that." now we found that the people in the insurance carrier's own room either did not have access to a computer, although they found that number and subsequently sent out a bill. so maybe the 20% failure is not so much the part on the people that signed up or on the federal government in california. it is the state that successfully managed covered california. host: do you mind if i ask you a question about your experience? that, was your family able to enroll? guest: the difference is this. the failure to pay 20% premium on the affordable care act, they
have already signed up. they cannot have a premium if they have not signed up. if they are getting a subsidy, they cannot have a figure to pay the insurance carrier. just like under medicare, where you pay a co-pay or if you have a regular insurance program where you pay a co-pay or an annual fee. out ofe -- it comes social security automatically. quite frankly, if you do not get a bill for how much from the insurance carrier, even though the exchange has already told you how much you are going to eligibleay, if you are for the subsidy, or if you make too much money and are not eligible for the subsidy. so those several points i wanted to share with you because i think a reporter should report, and we will call it a contributor -- i tried not to
use the word "pundit" -- we expect personal -- we respect personal opinion. the term was the federal government did not do too well on the rollout with the affordable care act. host: i am sure jonathan wants to respond to that. guest: i was not blaming the obama administration in its entirety for the 20% that have not shown up. i said the bar waiting for bills from the insurance companies. part of that i think is the administration's fall. the backend is not completely built yet, so some of the communications that go between health care.gov and the insurers is not going through. to pittsburgh, pennsylvania. william is on the line for independents. caller: good morning.
my whole thing on the aca is very simply if it is so fantastic and so great for america, how come there are so comewaivers issued? how congressional staffers do not have to be part of it? how come all these people are trying to escape from obamacare? certainly one of the arguments republicans are using against the law, and they have targeted some of the areas where they think there has been exemptions from capitol hill staffers and lawmakers. you have some lawmakers forgoing some of the subsidies. saying they should not get any special treatment that normal americans do not get. that is certainly something that republicans have jumped on. and in that same vein, there are so many bureau lateral -- there are so many unilateral moves. tweaks to the law to make it work better. republicans are saying president
obama is overstepping and that responsibility to enforce the laws. that is definitely something that democrats are going to have to be defensive on in 2014. host: massachusetts, mary is on the line for independents. guest: i have to echo frederick -- caller: i have to echo frederick's complaint about reporters. it is almost like he is promoting the aca over any other alternative payment for coverage for americans. there is never, ever a proponent of single-payer health care that is on "the washington journal." you never have steven brill, who can just explain why the aca won't work. your reporters always explain the aca, which is still impossible to understand because it is just unworkable approach to payment. so i would just like to ask your reporter why you seem to be
confused about -- you are confusing access to health insurance with access to health care, and why you don't cover payer movement which is active but very much uncovered by the media. thank you. guest: i mean, the media can only cover what is out there now. atublicans are putting -- some point republicans are nodding to have two put out their alternative -- at some point republicans in the house are going to have to put out their alternative to obamacare. stores willrimary be an alternative to obamacare, but right now obamacare is what something we will not probably have in the near future is why we are not talking about it much. steven writes, "if it is so important for people to sign up for the aca this year, why
does the enrollment period and march 31 -- what is the enrollment. -- the march 31 deadline will be what insurance companies are using to set premiums and prices next year. you should be able to continue to sign up throughout the year. host: next on our line for republicans is jeff, from florida. caller: yes, good morning. a couple of things. i have three areas i want to hit. everyone, we talk about the percentage of people that are signed up. it is important because the administration will not release this. it does not give a complete picture. of individuals who are signed up, how many had no insurance and were a part of the 30 million that they talked about versus individuals whose company dropped them from insurance, so therefore they had to sign up as well? until you can break those numbers down, you're not giving us the complete picture of what the law was intended to do, to
do with the people who did not have insurance, not the ones who did. number 2 -- we talk about the groups who are opposing this. it is important to include the fact that the government itself has spent tens of millions of dollars to run ads and get individuals to go out and talk health care, which is taxpayer money versus individuals who are raising the money. -- we talk about 30 million people uninsured, but i am an individual who has health care, and my company has already sent out letters in regards to possibly changes that are going to be taking place. so you really have about 310 million people in the nation, which means you have 280 million who either are perfectly fine with health care and perhaps need some tweaks. -- west area before i go are talking about the benefits
of this. there are generally four to five talking points that are beneficial for this aca, which i agree with come in which means the question should be asked, why does it take 3000 pages to talk about health care until you are 26, pre-existing conditions, plus another 20,000 pages of regulations that have come from hhs? if you are not talking about that, then you are just repeating what democrats or republicans say. thank you. guest: i think you made a couple of good points. you mentioned the percentage who had signed up, the 3.3 million who have enrolled or selected a plan, what percentage of them had health care previously and are not being covered for the first time -- and are being covered for the first time. we don't have that breakdown yet. you cannot use those as talking points. a lot of those people might have
had insurance previously and maybe are either signing up at healthcare.gov because they get federal subsidies or something like that. they might have already had health insurance. you make another good point about the 30 million uninsured. most people get insurance through private employers, so this was kind of a radical transformation of this health care overhaul -- this health care overhaul was fairly radical and it only affects a small percentage of the population. is on the line for democrats from north carolina. caller: thanks for taking my call. thank odd for c-span. i have one question and one question only. -- if you getense a subsidy in this volatile job market and you lose your job, do you have to pay the subsidy back? i know you have to contact them within 30 days, but do you have to pay the subsidy back the
cause you don't have the job and you don't qualify for the federal poverty level but your estimate did qualify for it? theou answer have to pay subsidy back, and to whom do you pay it back? each specific location is probably going to be different. there are certain aspects of health insurance where if you go through a life-changing event -- you get married, you lose your job, that kind of thing -- you have other options. i don't know of any cases where you would have to repay a subsidy that you already received. basically when you get a subsidy, what you do is you get the -- you pay the reduced amount to the insurer and the insurer goes to the federal government for the balance of that plan. i don't know of any incidents where you would have to pay their subsidy -- repay the subsidy,utve suaon fferllt. host: on our line for democrats, you're on with jonathan easley.
caller: "the hill" is a light week -- is a lightweight mouthpiece. the republicans and the right really research all the negative of the aca, and then they come on. hereferring to people like you. administration's responsibility to ensure that the people actually pay their insurance? the aca is a vehicle in which people can gain access to insurance. the final responsibility of payment is on the individual. no matter what, no matter how that happens. my last pa this is an analogy. goes to get access to purchase a home.
the first mortgage bill comes and they don't pay it. do you hold the realtor responsible for that nonpayment? and if you don't, then you cannot hold the administration responsible because people do not pay. what you have done is done this research and built your conversation around this lightweight talking point. that is what you have done, and you really need to back off of that. talk aboute here to the 20% of people who have failed to pay premiums under the aca. we will stick with that as our topic. guest: i would like to respond to that. i did not say it was the government's responsibility to obtain payment. i am saying basically we are at a stage in the health-care law where there is a dearth of really solid statistics about how the health-care law is working, and one of the primary statistics we have is how many people have enrolled in the law. the administration, when there has been this uptick, has been quick to promote and say, look,
--umber of people rolled enrolled at the end of december and we have another large number of enrollees near march 31. we are talking about the numbers that we are getting from the administration and saying, look, and roman has improved, and also we have to take a stack back -- a step back with a grain of salt . it is not the responsibility of the government to get that money, it is the insurer's responsibility. host: our guest is jonathan